The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) calls for international support to the populations affected by the Tsunami

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) monitors very closely the catastrophic situation caused by the Tsunami in South Asia through the Delegates of its Member Countries and the Regional Representation for Asia. While recognizing and fully supporting international efforts in obtaining the most urgent needs for medical supplies, clean water, food, shelter and sanitation, the OIE reminds the importance for the affected countries to be able to restart their animal disease and zoonoses monitoring and control capacities as soon as possible.

The OIE reminds on several infectious animal diseases and zoonoses that could have a potential impact on both animal and human health. The recent avian influenza epidemic in South East Asia when more than 100 million birds either died or were destroyed already posed considerable ethical, technical, ecological and economic problems to these countries.

While there is no scientific evidence to directly link an additional new human risk with avian influenza to this current natural disaster, it is still of importance to continue with efforts to control and eradicate the animal disease. For example, in the case of vaccination strategies in poultry when relevant, to control this disease and then to minimize human risk, the OIE recalls that these should be developed in consultation with all stakeholders, including the private sector. The types of poultry and production sectors to be vaccinated must be determined and clearly documented. Infected poultry and those potentially in contact with the virus should not be vaccinated.

Re-establishing local infrastructures as soon as possible, including Veterinary Services, is important as all surveillance and control strategies for any zoonotic emerging disease must be carried out under the supervision of official Veterinary Services.. This would mean that local Veterinary Services must also be given the human and financial resources to identify and monitor the presence of any threatening zoonosis in order to develop joint preventive strategies with public health authorities, in collaboration with OIE, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

On behalf of its 167 Member Countries, the OIE wishes to express its solidarity and strong support to all the affected countries as well as to the suffering populations.